Recipe: The King Burger (Bacon, Cheese and Peanut Butter Burger)

13 Nov

Elvis woulda loved it,

Clearly missing the sweet, heart-attack-inducing fare of the Deep South, Josh decided to cook something special last night; a dinner that the King himself would have gladly tucked into.  It was an insane combination of thick juicy burger, crisp smoked bacon, Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce, smooth peanut butter, gooey plastic cheese and more bacon thrown in for good measure.

It sounds a little scary doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t, I promise.  It was epic and staggeringly gorgeous.  The peanut butter  lent a creamy saltiness that countered the sweet shallots within the burger.  The bacon was smokey and added bite.  Plastic cheese, well for me, it just improves everything, right?  And I guess that goes for BBQ sauce too.  So perhaps not one for the weight watchers but as Saturday night treats go, this one was rocking and rolling.

To buy (for four burgers):

*650g really good steak mince   *1 small shallot, finely chopped   *2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce   *1 teaspoon smoked paprika   *1 teaspoon hot paprika   *1 pinch of chilli   *2 teaspoons of BBQ seasoning   *toasted buns   *good quality streaky bacon   *cheese (we used plastic)   *BBQ sauce (we have Jack Daniel’s Honey Smokehouse) but any would be fine.

Josh and his giant meatball

To make:

1. In a big bowl combine the meat, shallots, seasoning and Worcestershire sauce until really well mixed.  Split into four and make meat patties that are an inch or two thick.  Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for at least half an hour.

2. When you’re ready to eat, under a pre-heated grill or in a hot pan cook the burgers for a few minutes on each side as you like.  I like my burgers juicy and pink inside but seared and blackened on the outside so cook them quickly and at high temperatures but this it totally up to you.  Always good to rest the burgers for a while before serving them though.

3. To build the King burgers, toast the bottom half of the baps and then spread a generous dollop of peanut butter on top.  Add a slice or plastic cheese and then some really crispy bacon.  Pop the burger on top and then add a little more bacon (we chopped it in half before cooking so it fit in the bun better) and a huge, unseemly dollop of BBQ sauce.  Top with the toasted bap lid and prepare for a treat.

Congratulations to Josh for deciding that this could and would work and hat-tip to Fresh and Foodie for providing  him with a recipe to tweak as he went along.  Are you going to make this? Could you think of a way to make it even better? I need to try it, if so.

 

 

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Deep South America – Meat, meat and more meat

12 Nov

I really love chopped pork sandwiches

What did I expect from a roadtrip around the Deep South? Elvis, fried green tomatoes, Blues, smoky smudgy BBQ, jazz, Southern Hospitality, Honkytonks, mint juleps, NASCAR, Spanish Moss, Coca-Cola, Jack Daniels, juicy crawfish and a lotta lotta hog. Well, my boy Josh and I found all of that and more.

And yes we found some of the most finger-licking, lip-smacking, tummy-rumbling meaty goodness ever. Brace yourself. Your waistbands may expand just reading about it.

In Atlanta we drove to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack where we smelt the sweet, smokey BBQ before we wrapped our mouths around it. Fat Matt’s was everything a rib shack should be: a grizzled cool-ass band were playing blues inside the shack and we sat out front in the warm evening sun where for about $5 we got ourselves a chopped pork sandwich with a side of chips.  The pork was soft, juicy and drenched in the finest BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted. Simple, unfussy but uncommonly good, topped off with a chewy, sticky pecan pie, Fat Matt’s had us begging for more.

Another night in Atlanta we did a Drive-in double.  Before heading to Starlight Six theater to watch a movie under the stars, we visited Varsity, the World’s Largest Drive-In Restaurant.  To cries of “What’ll ya have?” and “Have your order in your mind and your money in your hand” we didn’t even have to stretch our legs and get out of the car as the bell-hops came to our window to take the order.  Deciding between “Walk-a-dogs” (hot dogs), “gussied-up-steaks” (hamburgers), and a “bag of rags” (fries) was pretty tough but I had greasy fries, pimento cheese burger and a frosted orange.  Stretching out in our hire-car and listening to the yawn of the 7-lane interstate outside of the window we chowed down on our dinner smiling all the time before tucking into fried pies in apple and Georgia peach.  Cheap, fast and wholly unique, I can see why two miles of hot dogs, 2500 pounds of potatoes are fried, 5000 pies and 300 gallons of chili are made from scratch daily!

Greasy goodness

From Atlanta we motored to Savannah, described as “a pretty girl with a dirty face” , the historic city drips with Spanish Moss, aches with mystery and sexiness and is studded with 22 beautiful, green squares.  We wandered from the Thunderbird Motel from square to square and then straight to a bar where we drank craft beers and rum and got tipsy like a true Savannah-ite.  Before sipping Key Lime Margaritas and Sparklebomb cocktails we had a sumptuous dinner at B. Matthew’s Eatery where Josh ordered a curried fish soup he quickly declared the best soup he’d ever eaten, and we noshed sweet potato fries and more pulled pork sandwiches (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself) and shared a British style bread pudding, yanked-up with a Bourbon glaze.  The waiters there were incredible, the bar historic, the riverfront location amazing.  They’re meant to do a mean brunch too.

Before reaching Nashville we drank sodas in the Smoky Mountains, sniffed sour mash at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg and ate she-crab soup and fried green tomatoes in Charleston (at the institution that is Hyman’s next to a table where Vanilla Ice once dined. Oh yes.) but the siren call of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash couldn’t evade us for long and soon we were tapping our toes to Bluegrass and dreaming of a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Hawt Hawt HAWT!

In Nashville we made like ‘Man Vs. Food’ and went to Prince’s Hot Chicken, a tiny faded shop-front home to cayenne-rubbed hot chucks fried to juicy perfection and served on a slice of white bread with a side of pickles.  A local legend, the shack serves mild, medium, hot and (what must be blisteringly) extra hot chicken to lucky locals.  We grabbed a giant soda and I ate until my ears rang.  The skin of the chicken was fiery hot, but smoky and good. Inside the bird the white meat was soft and soothing.  God only knows what would have happened if we’d ordered anything hotter than a medium.  Tears certainly.   As soon as he started eating his chicken Josh looked distinctly worried.  He gulped hard and stared ahead. “I don’t know if I can eat this” he murmured plaintively before breathing hard and ploughing on.  And we did it, we cleaned the plate. We may have been sweating and shaking slightly but we did it and it was incredible.  An experience like no other. Wowzers.

On to Memphis where asides from an emotional trip to Lorraine Motel to learn more about civil rights, a night’s sleep in the Peabody hotel where we saw those famous lobby ducks and a trip to Graceland to see just how Elvis lived we ate the finest freaking ribs ever. Yes, ever.  At Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, located in a downtown alley as it has done since 1948 and serving up 5 tonnes of their ridiculously fine dry rub ribs each week, this was heaven on a plate.

Damn fine ribs, yes sir.

For $17.50 you get a full rack and for $14.50 a small order. Along with BBQ beans and creamy slaw, this was show-stopping eating.  Smoky, sweet and with juicy tender pork falling from the bone, the ribs looked colossal on the plate but were soon seen off.  And you don’t need to take it from me, oh no, Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake and Al Green love these ribs. The Rolling Stones got sticky fingers here.  Unbeatable.  As is Memphis.  From hollering at the microphone Elvis and Johnny Cash sang into at Sun Records to boozing your way down Beale Street and lunching at the Arcade Diner – this place has soul.

We checked out of the classy Peabody Hotel and jumped in our little Blue Nissan, put Memphis Slim and Howlin’ Wolf on the radio and raced past huge white cotton fields in Mississippi (until we were stopped for speeding by the Police) and then cruised more leisurely to  Clarksdale, the home of Blues.  Here we stayed in the most beautiful and atmospheric Shack-Up Inn, listened to sweet guitar and raw Delta Blues and resisted the urge to write on the walls at the Ground Zero Blues Club and I tried tamales for the first time ever.

At the intersection of Highways 61 and 49 where Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange to become a famous Bluesman,  there is a sign of a happy pig in a bowtie.  This is Abe’s BBQ shack which has been open since 1924 and serves smoky pulled pork, vinegary slaw and slow burning tamales, they are cornmeal and hog wrapped in corn husks and boiled before you unwrap and discard the leaf wrapper and dig in. Weird at first but slow burning indeed.  I can see why Robert Johnson wrote a song about them.

Smiling Hog

Before heading home we had a few crazy days in New Orleans, where we ate beignets and drank strong coffees for breakfast,  wandered amongst the beads and balconies of French quarter,  stroked snakes and made wishes at the voodoo temple and avoided the drunks and strip-bars on Bourbon Street.  We ate gator and drank hurricanes.  Wandered along the Mississippi and slept in a haunted house.  On Frenchman Street we ate till we burst and drank killer rum punch. We toured the swamps and saw alligators and turtles and felt the sun beat down and the sultry wind in our hair.

It was an incredible, delicious trip.  We met the friendliest people, listened to the most awesome music, drank delirium-inducing cocktails and filled our bellies with Lowcountry cooking.  I cannot wait to do it all again.

 

 

Simple Supper: Leon’s Butternut and Bacon Chowder

12 Nov

A Winter Warmer

It’s been months since I posted and I can only apologise and offer this as an explanation: a) I went on a Deep South roadtrip which took up much of my monies and day dreams and b) I am planning a wedding, which does the same!  I hope you’ve all been and eating well.

I don’t know about you but I am starting to hug the duvet a little more when I wake up in the mornings, starting to eye up knitwear when out shopping and very recently crave liqueur coffees at odd times of the day; it must be the season.  With whole aisles of the supermarket dedicated to mincepies and goose fat and bonfire night behind us it’s definitely that time between autumn and winter when you could eat a salad but what I really want is stew or soup or pies or roasts. I love it.

This butternut and bacon chowder is from the unsurpassed Leon Ingredients and Recipes cookbook and is rich and sweet and warming all at once.

For four:

To buy:

*3 tablespoons butter   *200g streaky bacon, diced small   *1 large onion, diced   *1 small butternut squash (about 650g), peeled and cut into 2cm dice   *2 medium floury potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2cm dice   *500ml stock   *100ml double cream   *500ml full-fat milk   *3 big handfuls of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped   *1 tablespoon of thyme, roughly chopped   *salt and pepper

To make:

1. Over a medium heat melt the butter in a big saucepan and add the bacon – not in one big clump – once the butter’s nutty and browning.

2.  Cook on a medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp and go golden brown. Then stir in the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

3. Add the onion and some salt and cook for another 10 minutes or so with the pan lid on until the onion is soft  but not browning.  Add a few splashes of water and then the squash and potatoes.  Turn the heat down a little and continue to cook and stir occasionally for 10 minutes.

4. Now turn the heat up a little and add the chicken stock and cream.  Simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes until the veg is soft but not collapsing.

5. Add the milk and bring to a simmer and then quickly turn off the heat – Do not let the milk boil or it will split.

6.  Using a slatted spoon remove the veg from the soup and blend into a smooth puree and add back to the soup.

7. Season as you like, add the herbs, a dribble of cream if you’re being a fancypants and serve with crusty bread, butter and your favourite box-set.

Recipe: Rosie’s Mojito Cheesecake

9 Aug

Minty limey cheesey goodness

This sumptuous pudding – as refreshing  as a mojito and comforting as a cake – is from Rosie Lovell’s Spooning with Rosie and was introduced to me by my boss last week who bought it into the office to a rapturous response. It was simply the tastiest cheesecake I’ve ever had the pleasure to scoff. And it’s easy to make too. What, what I ask, could be better?To buy:

*300g ginger nut biscuits   *75g butter   *500g mascarpone   *50ml double cream   *110g icing sugar   *4 limes   *a handful of fresh mint

To make:

1. Crush the biscuits, either with a rolling pin and a plastic bag or by whizzing up in a food processor.  Melt the butter on a low heat on the hob or in the microwave and thoroughly mix into the biscuits.

Heavenly

2. Scoop the mix into a flan tin, loose-bottomed if possible – and flatten down.  Chill for a while in the fridge whilst you make the topping.

3. Turn the mascarpone into a big mixing bowl and whisk in the double cream so it’s smooth and shiny.  Gradually whisk in the icing sugar and then the juice and zest of around 4 limes (you made need more or less depending on how zingy your fruit is!)

4. Finely chop the mint and then stir through the mix.  Spoon this gorgeous concoction on top of the biscuit base and then pop in the fridge.

5. Wipe the dribble from your chin. Eat.

Coca Cola Cake

26 Jul

It's the real thing

Because I’m off on a Deep South roadtrip in a few week’s time (calling at Atlanta – the home of Coke, Savannah, Charleston, Charlotte to watch NASCAR, a night in the Smoky Mountains, Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale, Natchez, New Orleans, a little town in Alabama and then back to Atlanta!) where I will be pulling much pork and sipping sweet cola; I decided tonight to bake my first ever Coca Cola cake.

I baked it, however, for Josh to take to work where they are holding a bake-sale to raise money for the DEC East African famine appeal and so I am yet to try it and decide whether or not it is tasty… fingers crossed.  I will let you know how it goes!

To buy (for one cake and at least six cupcakes):

Cake – *125g unsalted butter (and some to grease the tin)   *250g self-raising flour   *200ml Coca-Cola   *3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda   *1 tbsp cocoa, sifted   *300g golden caster sugar   *2 medium eggs   *125ml buttermilk   *1tsp vanilla extract     Icing – *3 tbsp Coca-Cola   *50g unsalted butter   *1tbsp cocoa, sifted   *225g icing sugar, sifted    Topping – *stars

1. Grease a couple of tins or 1 tin and pop a few cupcake cases in a tin whilst you bring the cola to the boil with the butter, and once this has melted stir in the bicarbonate of soda, which will fizz.  Set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 190Oc/ 170Oc fan/ Gas mark 5.  Combine the flour, cocoa and sugar in a large bowl, add the coke mixture and beat until smooth.  Whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and vanilla extract, then whisk this into the cake base.  Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and give it a couple of taps to bring up any bubbles.

3. Bake for around 35 minutes, or until the cake has risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Run a knife around the egde of the cake tin, pop onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

4. To make the icing, place the cola, butter, and cocoa into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking until smooth, then stir in the icing sugar.  It sets very quickly so carefully drizzle over the cakes before decorating as you like.

Let’s hope that this sweet and sticky cake raises oodles of money for a very worthy cause.

Eating our way around Zakynthos

14 Jul

Shipwreck Beach

γειά σου! I’m back in London after two hot, happy and tasty weeks in Zakynthos – a beautiful Greek Island surrounded by warm turquoise waters – where I holidayed with my fiancé and his family and where I tried and failed to play enough ping-pong to account for the millions, nay trillions, of calories I hoovered up every day. 

Very nearly every day the sky was a deep, cobalt blue and the sun beat down and tanned our skin, causing an explosion of freckles and light streaks in our hair.  Throughout the island, the trees burst with bright purple Bougainvilleas, palm trees swayed in the breeze and the branches of olive trees held swallows and swifts, whilst figs and lemons swelled, brightened and fell to the floor.

During my vacation I discovered firsthand, just how and why Greeks are the world’s biggest, per capita, consumers of cheese –  eating around 25kg per capita annually – as one of our typical meals would involve hefty blocks of creamy feta perched on salads, cheesy gooey chilli balls, and slabs of Saganaki – fried, yes that’s right fried, cheese.  We wolfed down barbequed halloumi, gobbled spinach and feta pies and during dinners at the villa ate cheese during as many meals as feasible. I loved every single gorgeous bite.

Can o' octopus

Above the sound of donkey’s hee-hawing, kitten’s miaows and the lapping of waves against the shore, come nighttime we would watch the sun set as we ate at tavernas perched upon the cliff’s edge where we would slather mountains of fresh, homemade tzatziki on juicy pork souvlaki, and listen – yet again – to Zorba the Greek.  Slick Dolmades and giant beans cooked in tomatoes and oil got our mouths watering before friendly, charming waiters – not alas, all of the Shirley Valentine ilk – bought plate after plate of mousakka, rabbit stifado and suckling pig.  One night Josh had “drunk beef” – steak cooked in Mythos which was like a British casserole – and I confess we did venture into the nearest resort for a “Full English” which included a sausage which surely consisted of 98% rusk.

We drank much wine.  It was good and bad and ugly.  Chilled glasses of red wine, fruity sangria, awful spumante, best for unblocking drains, and I survived my first, perhaps last, glass of retsina.  Retsina is a Greek wine, that has been produced for over 2,000 years and which has a unique flavour said to originate from the practice of sealing wine vessels with pine resin.  It was, to paraphrase my Father in-law-to-be, a wine that tasted a bit like toilet duck.  It was also said to taste more refined than the last time my Mother-in-Law-to-be drank it, a few years ago.  Well, it tasted pretty, ummm, interesting this time round and I am not sure I’ll be rushing to import any to Britain.

A menu

Being on island I had to push aside my fishiness about seafood and try the treasures from the sea.  I endured sardines so strong I had to drink retsina to take away the taste, juicy great whitebait and soft and chewy calamari drenched with zingy lemon juice.  I drew the line at a tin of octopus which we skewered and toasted on the barbeque.  Bleeruuugh. Maybe next year.

So, aside from the sun, the crystal sea, the warm honeyed air, the sultry summer night barbecues, the days spent catching up on reading, testing matches of ping-pong, hours spent playing with kittens, ice cream after ice cream and shopping trips for knock-off sunglasses,  Zakynthos shone by being incredibly welcoming and hospitable.  Every time we went out for dinner, the owner of the Taverna, a waitress or waiter, would finish the meal by bringing over a free treat – tart and juicy kiwi smoothies, apples in cinnamon syrup, chilled local wine, a nutmeg liquor and even a slice of their son’s birthday cake.

It was so kind and sweet that it, along with the huge amounts of belly-laughs and fun we had dorking around all day in the sunshine, made it incredibly difficult to bid the Island goodbye.

Red red wine

Recipe: Teeny little cherry scones

10 Jun

Teeny weeny (can't say no) scones

Ahhh summer, my dear old friend.  You are good for so many things.  In no particular order, I love you, summer, for the following: *the smell of sunscreen at the cricket ground  *the first sip of a cold beer on a sultry afternoon  *watching new freckles growing on my nose  *laughing when boys talk tactics at the barbecue  *nibbling ice cream and getting it all over my chops  *when I accidentally get a bit hammered on jugs of cocktails  *dancing at sweaty summer gigs  *falling asleep in the park in the sunshine  *plump, juicy summer fruit  *getting to wear tee-shirts and sweet summer frocks   *flowers bursting into bloom   *trips to the seaside and *scones. Scones, piled high and served with dollops of cream and smudges of strawberry jam!

Yes scones. Aren’t they gorgeous?  Freshly baked so they make your home smell quite ridiculously lovely, this recipe (adapted from a goodfood one) makes a batch of about 14 teeny little scones – perfect when you just want a bite of something sinful.

To buy:

*350g self-raising flour (and extra for dusting)   *1/4 tsp salt   *1tsp baking powder   *85g butter, cut into cubes   *4 tbsp golden caster sugar   *90g glace cherries   *150g pot of natural yogurt   *4 tbsp full-fat milk   *1 tsp vanilla extract   *1 egg beaten

Jamtastic

1. Preheat oven to 220Oc/200oC fan and place a baking sheet in the oven to warm up.

2. In a big bowl use an electric whisk to whizz up the flour, salt, baking powder and butter until it blends together.  Add the sugar and blend again.

3. Chop your cherries roughly and add to the bowl and then make a well in the mixture.

4. Either in the microwave or in a saucepan warm the yogurt, milk and vanilla until it is hot.  It make go a bit lumpy.  Tip into the bowl and quickly work into your mixture using a knife and as soon as it’s in stop mixing.

5. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and with floured hands fold the dough over a few times.  Press out so it’s a few inches thick and use  a small biscuit-cutter to stamp out your scones.  Squash the remaining dough together, roll out, stamp out more scones, until the dough is all used up.

6. Brush the scones with the egg, then scatter the flour over the baking sheet and back for about 12 minutes.  They will be golden brown and will have risen beautifully.

7. Best eaten whilst warm and with lashings of jam and clotted or really thick double cream. Yum.

 

Review: Mooli’s

6 Jun

Divine Street Cuisine

50 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SQ

http://www.moolis.com

0207 494 9075

Tonight at Mooli’s in between sipping on Mexican beers, knocking back lychee and guava mojitos and gossiping with my friends –  Sam, Daria and Josh – about tipping for expensive haircuts (a £50 tip? What is this madness? Only in Sloane Square!) and where to find the best burgers in New York… along with listening to some totally toe-tapping songs – Phoenix and Belle and Sebastian – and appreciating the ridiculously friendly and lovely service, there was the tasty, clean, fresh and ruddy gorgeous eats.  Mmm and double mmmmmm.

For a pound we scoffed our way through a bag of roasted pappadom bites which came with fresh, zingy chutney – crisp and spicy; really good.  Between us we tried a selection of the Mooli roti wraps – the keralan beef, coconut, salsa and yoghurt, the chicken, fenugreek, lentils, pickled turnip and yoghurt and the Punjabi goat, cumin potatoes and salsa.

Not just a wrap, ok?

The Mooli’s rotis were about a fiver a pop and, without daring to be sexist – not least because I like to think I could eat many a man under the table – were properly filling for both of us girls whilst the guys at our table needed sides; and were spicy and tender, with soft, taut flatbread and lovely salsa and smooth, creamy yoghurt.  Delivered to the table wrapped in foil, like a burrito, and served with a smile and on shiny bright trays this is just how fast food should be.

For pudding we licked and nibbled our way through mango and pistachio kulfis – lovely sticks of Indian ice cream – which were fantastic although a teeny bit too pricey at £2.50 a go.

The mojitos were powerful good.  Sweet and strong, fragrant and fuzzy.  It was very very easy to stay and watch the street scene unfold before us (we spotted an ex-cabinet Minister who used to share the gym with me when I worked in Parliament drinking by the door and I befriended a cat called Bob who belonged to a sweet homeless guy) and knock back a few jars.

The atmosphere was lovely and made me realise how lax I had been in not getting to Mooli’s before now.  The food tasted good, honest and true.  It made me wish I worked just a bit teenier closer to Soho so that I could indulge at least one lunchtime a week.  The service was also so ridiculously lovely and sweet that I wished more restaurants could be just a smidgeon as good as this.  It was a wonderful summer’s evening and I urge you, if you haven’t been to Mooli’s yet… go.

Mmmmmmojito

If your office is in Soho, go, for lunch, for a post-work date, whatever,  go.  If you are busy shopping one Saturday afternoon and fancy a pit-stop:  go.  When it comes to Mooli’s I would say – just go!

 

Review: Bodean’s BBQ

28 May

Pork fest

Bodean’s

10 Poland Street, London, W1F 8PZ

020 7287 7575

At the end of summer Josh and I will embark on another American Roadtrip but this time, we will leave behind the ochre New England forests and salty Cape Cod beaches for the sticky, soulful South.  Already my tummy rumbles at the prospect of beignets and po’boys in New Orleans, pulled pork in Memphis, slow burning tamales in Clarksdale, meat and three in Nashville, crab and shrimp in Charleston and stacks and stacks and stacks of sweet, smoky barbecue.

Today, we were treated to a preview of these waist-expanding delights when we accompanied Josh’s parents to Bodean’s in Soho.  Upstairs the floor is laid-out like a diner – all white tiles, stools at the counters and baseball on the telly.  Downstairs it’s dimly lit, tartan carpets and green leather straight back booths – to my eternal shame I’m yet to set foot in an Angus Steakhouse – but I imagine the decor is broadly the same; and this is no bad thing.

Our service was quick, friendly and eager to please.  We began with cocktails.  Josh had the dubious sounding ‘largerita’ – a concoction of beer and tequilla which I promise was better than it sounds – whilst Howard plumped for a trusty mojito and I nursed a short cocktail made with apple juice and Kraken black spiced rum – lipsmacking.

Sweet smoky goodness

We ordered a plate to share to whet our appetites and quickly tucked into sticky chicken wings, pork fajitas, crab cakes and ribs, which we drizzled with blue cheese sauce.  Very nice all of it.  But then the main act arrived on the stage and was simply “ribs ribs, RIBS!”  I was given a platter larger than my face, piled high with babyback ribs, slaw, pulled pork and spicy, crisp fries.  Leonie had ribs, Howard had ribs, Josh had burnt ends – spicy, sweet, chunky beef – pulled pork and cheesey, chilli fries.  I am exhausted just typing it.  Napkins were deployed, bottles of smoked hickory BBQ and hot chipotle sauces flowed and we ate, pulling meat of bone with our fingers and teeth.  Indeed ‘need no teef to eat my beef’ is the slogan of Bodean’s owner and the soft pork fell away from the bone with ease.  The table weighed heavy with our plates and also held bowls of lemony-fresh wipes and tooth picks – essential tools of the trade when you’re elbow deep in ribs!

We ate and ate and ate.  The fries were really very good, the coleslaw better than expected, but my goodness it was the pork that sung the loudest.  Soft and juicy, plump and sweet. Just delicous and lots of fun.  When we could eat no more we checked with the waitress that we could carry out our leftovers, we could!, and as I type this, I can’t stop thinking of the doggy-bag of meat in my kitchen, waiting for me to attack later on tonight as soon as my stomach does the gentlest of murmurs.

Whilst Bodean’s may not be the perfect place for a first date – I am not sure if chewing on ribs has ever attracted a sweetheart? – it is a great meaty treat.  Vegetarians beware, ditto weightwatchers, barbecue lovers wear loose pants.  Bodean’s will leave you smiling ear to ear and begging for more.

Burnt ends and chilli cheese fries

Recipe: Crème brûlée

28 May

Tap to unwrap

 

Crème brûlée, or burnt cream, was invented in Trinity College, Cambridge and is just about the most decadent, gorgeous pudding I can imagine.  Smooth, vanilla custard and taut, crisp caramel – what a beautiful marriage.

Josh had bought me a blowtorch for my birthday and so I put it to perfect use when making these Crème brûlées for his birthday meal dessert.  The recipe, another Good Food recipe, makes 2 – 3 servings and will be ready in about an hour and a half.  If you have the willpower make them the night before and ensure the custards are fully chilled, then prepare to have your socks blown off.

To buy:

*215ml double cream   *50ml full fat milk   *1/2 vanilla pod   *3 egg yolks   *25g caster sugar – and extra for the topping.

To make:

1.  Preheat the oven to fan 160Oc/conventional 180Oc and sit your ramekins in a deep roasting tin.

Bain-marie

2. Pour the cream into a medium pan with the milk.  Lay the vanilla pod on a chopping board and slice lengthways through the middle with a sharp knife to split into two.  Scrape out the tiny seeds into the cream mixture.  Drop the vanilla pod in as well.  Put the pan over a medium heat and bring almost to the boil, as soon as you see bubbles appear around the edge of the pan take it off the heat.

3. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 1 minute with an electric whisk until pale in colour and a bit fluffy.

4. Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a wire whisk as you do so, scraping out the seeds from the pan.  Set a fine sieve over a large jug or bowl and pour the hot mixture through to strain it, encouraging any stray vanilla seeds through at the end.  Using a big spoon scrape off all the pale foam and discard, stir the mixture.

5. Pour enough hot water into the roasting tin to come up about 1.5cm up the sides of the ramekins.  Fill the ramekins right up to the top.  Pop in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the mixture is softly set.  To check, sway the tin and if the Crème brûlées wobble a bit like jelly in the middle that’s great.  Don’t let them go firm.

6. When done, lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes before popping them in the fridge, until completely cool.  Either for an hour or so or overnight.

Blowtorch the Brulee

7. When ready to serve, sprinkle caster sugar over each ramekin and spread out with fingertips or the back of a spoon.  Spray a fine mist of water over the top to slightly dampen the sugar and then use a blowtorch to caramelise it.  Hold the flame just above the sugar and burn all of the sugar until it bubbles and goes dark.  Pop in the fridge again to go firm, within an hour or so. Enjoy.